expensive academic journals

by Hugh

From the Globe (registration/fees required) comes an article by Elizabeth Church about the price of academic journals, and the emerging movement towards open access academic journals:

This year, the University of Toronto’s library system will spend $20-million on acquisitions. But less than one-third of that money will go to books. The majority will pay for the rising subscription costs of academic journals…

(Too bad, and nicely ironic, that the Globe stuck the article behind a subscription fee).

Anyway, good article, the main point being that U of T spends $13 million on journals every year. Leaving $7 million for books. Jesus.

I recently had a brief exchange about some of these issues with Alexandre in the comment thread of one of Austin’s posts… talking about just this issue, more or less: that anthropolists have much to tell us/much to research about the the evolution of online and real world communities. And yet: a) they are mostly not doing it and b) when they do do it, their findings are published in unavailable academic journals.

It’s very funny the way this is discussed though: peer review is expensive, academic reputations are based on publishing in prestigious journals etc. And yet, academics are not paid for their contributions (or are paid pennies), I don’t know (but I doubt) whether peer reviewers are paid either (can anyone confirm that?).

So journals get their content for free, and charge exorbitant fees for the providing:
a) a ranking/authority service
b) a distribution service

But they in fact are not legitimately charging for content, since they do not pay for the content.